Free Solo, about the free climber Alex Honnold climbing El Capitan in Yosemite, just won an Oscar tonight for best documentary. I’m not overly into the Academy Awards because I usually haven’t seen the movies but this one, I didn’t want to be out of the loop on. I have been interested in what Honnold does for years because it is nothing short of incredible. For those of you that don’t know about Honnold or what free climbing is, the short version is he climbs up insane rocks by himself with no ropes. In this movie he is climbing El Capitan, a 3,000 feet climb, and to reiterate, NO ROPES! If you have not seen the movie, I would recommend you stop reading and go watch it. It is available on Amazon and Apple and probably other places.
There is no doubt that the physical ability is out of this world, the control of nerves is basically inhuman, and his pain tolerance is on another level. As I sat there and watching him doing the impossible, I could not get my word of the year, present, out of my head. His commitment to being present, in one moment is astounding. When I decided to start working on being present my goal was just to set my Pixel down for a bit. As scary as being away from Google for thirty minutes may be, I am really only risking better mental health and preserving memories. Honnold when he is being present he is literally risking his life every second for three plus hours.
He is present like I have never seen before. Once he starts there is no option for a break of focus. He has no time outs, no half time, no lunch break, and no support. It is him, a slab of granite, and thousands of feet. There are times where it is actually hard to tell what he is holding onto and somehow his focus never wearies. He commits 100% to one thing and as a result he has quite literally conquered mountains no one thought could be conquered. It shows me what potential we all have have and how untapped it is in almost everyone. With just a fraction of Honnold’s focus, and commitment to being present, goals that today seem unattainable are most likely just a little bit of directed effort away. I am not suggesting anyone go climb a rock without a rope, because I am certainly not going to do that, but I think that we can take risks. The important thing is to offset those risks by really committing to the preparation and once you take that leap, being present in that one task. Whatever your mountain is, watch Free Solo then, go conquer.